Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine is the tastiest version of American history you can experience. Author, Sarah Lohman, explores U.S. multiculturalism through the origins of the favorite tastes that makes our food quintessentially “American.”
To many people, cooking with MSG (monosodium glutamate) and other strange sounding ingredients may seem like something to avoid. But according to food scientist and author Steve Witherly, who was profiled in a recent Business Insider article, MSG is perfectly safe.
Celiac disease and gluten intolerance are real health issues that can cause significant discomfort and physical damage. For people with these conditions, following a gluten-free diet is a medical necessity, not just a fad. Some people choose a gluten-free lifestyle for other reasons, such as helping them focus more on consuming whole foods and fewer processed foods. In any case, people who avoid gluten-containing foods get used to reading lots of food labels. Checking ingredient lists and allergen statements on food packaging is essential in order to really know if a food is gluten-free or not.
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a gluten-free ingredient. Nevertheless, confusion about its gluten-free status is understandable for a couple of reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that the words “gluten” and “glutamate” both start with the same letters and sound quite similar (due to the beginning “gloot” sound).
I recently heard a health professional make some odd comments about monosodium glutamate (MSG), comments such as “we’re supposed to avoid that” and “it’s supposed to be bad for us.” I asked her if she knew what it was. She confessed, “not really.” I loved her honesty as much as I worried about her sharing myths about MSG with patients and clients.
The truth – and it’s an indisputable truth – is that you can’t avoid glutamate, the “G” in MSG. Moreover, you don’t have to and you wouldn’t even want to if you could. It’s too important for our gut health, our digestion, and our taste buds. You’d also have to stop eating all protein foods, because glutamate is the most abundant amino acid in protein. It makes up about 20% of the amino acids in most high-quality proteins, whether they occur in animals or plants.
As the holiday season kicks off, beginning with the celebration of Thanksgiving, millions of Americans join together with family and friends in homes and restaurants all over the country. On “turkey day” we consume epic portions of traditional favorites, seasonal dishes, and flavorful desserts. And we can be thankful not just for our food – but also to know that everything on our table is safe to eat. This is because our country’s government agencies – the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Department of Agriculture (USDA) – determine the safety and protect the quality of what ends up on our plates and in our cups.